For this month's "Monthly Forum" (yes I know
Key question #1: What is educational technology?
Technology is "the application of science (or knowledge) to meet objectives or to solve problems." (source)
Technology is not science itself, which is primarily concerned with
(Schooling is the systematic formal process whereby the behaviors [and ideas] of [mostly young] people are shaped to meet adult expectations. Education is the [largely informal] experiential process through which a person comes to know and be who s/he is. These definitions were developed by my FND 510 class this quarter.)
Technologies used in schooling include classrooms, chalkboards, books, podiums, graded classrooms, chair-desk, bells, bell schedules, school buses, school buildings, playgrounds, athletic fields, band rooms, band instruments, colored chalk, the architecture of schools, p.a. systems, teacher certification systems, the ways we "divide" subjects into "disciplines," testing (and other assessment approaches of all kinds), school districting, "catchment" areas, curriculum plans, "standards" statements, and many many other activities/processes/devices/frameworks. It is important to emphasize, "technology" isn't just things, but the systems of ideas that legitimate and constrain the use of things. On this expanded notion of technology, we can say that "schooling" is the application of technology to make
Related to this, technologies can roughly (thanks Jason!) be divided into those that are "old" (that is, taken for granted as being "necessary" for schooling) and those that are new (that is, still being negotiated in terms of their role--or lack thereof--in schools). This, of course, depends on one's perspective, since a technology that is taken for granted by a young person might be still be considered to have an unsettled role to an older person. Similarly, technologies that are taken for granted in wealthier, suburban or private schools (such as interactive whiteboards) are often considered exotic or a luxury in poorer, urban schools. Such differences in attitude are never about whether a particular technology is really needed for education; they are always about whether they deserve to be funded or mandated for all schools--again, the central question of educational policy.
But we don't tend to talk about this question as if it were a question about technology. Instead, we limit our explicit discussion of technologies to a subset of
This limitation of the application of the concept of technology tends to draw attention away from certain critical perspectives (such as those of Michel Foucault, Neil Postman, or Michael Apple) which talk about, for example "technologies of [political] control." Surely these critical perspectives are justified in used of the word "technology," just as much as the common person is justified (in some ways) in limiting discussion of technologies to what I've described above as "digital technologies." What's important is realizing that any limitation of the word "technology" to particular types of technologies has both motivations and consequences, which should be examined. Thus, the limitation of the discussion to "digital technologies" tends to take OFF the table many of the other things I've listed, such as bell schedules and P.A. systems, even though THOSE technology are pernicious and omnipresent in schools.
Key question #2: What criteria do we use in evaluating educational technologies?
Like all technologies, each item on the list I
(For the general public, probably, the most important criterion is whether the use of a technology conduces to the achievement of [whatever measure of success is given credence, for example] higher standardized test scores. But that criterion is hotly disputed by many.)
Given the importance of the choice of criteria to apply, perhaps
Okay, enough revision for now. Stay tuned for Part B, where I'll talk about some of the political, cultural, and ideological forces at work in discussions about educational technology, including those that are ostensibly concerned with student learning.